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Wallin: Act, Etc / Grubinger, Van Zweden, Axelrod, Et Al

Release Date: 02/12/2008 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1118   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Martin Grubinger
Conductor:  Jaap van ZwedenJukka-Pekka SarasteJohn Axelrod
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic OrchestraKroumata Percussion Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WALLIN Act. 1 Das war schön! 2 Tides 3 Jaap van Zweden, cond; 1 John Axelrod, cond; 2 Jukka-Pekka Saraste, cond; 3 Martin Grubinger (perc); 2 Kroumata Perc Ens; 3 Read more Oslo PO ONDINE 1118 (68:03)

The Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin (b. 1957) is a versatile artist. A trumpeter in early-music ensembles, experimental jazz groups, and rock bands, he studied with Roger Reynolds and Vinko Globukar.

The 2003 piece for large orchestra, Act , celebrates mankind’s ability to create together, to cooperate. For Wallin, one of the most powerful examples of this is the symphony orchestra. This is his exuberant tribute, then, to one of our cultural glories. His writing glitters with irrepressible energy. According to an introductory note by Martin Anderson, Wallin has been compared to such modern greats as Xenakis and Ligeti. It is not difficult to see where this parallel came from, for Act speaks to our basic instincts in a similar way, while also making no concessions to the listener. The music hurtles towards its fearsomely constructed conclusion (think extreme Birtwistle) with an impressive inevitability.

The year 2006 brought a Mozart anniversary, and the three middle movements of Das war schön! are a tribute to Mozart; the first movement pays homage to Messiaen ( Le merle noir , to be precise) and glitters beautifully. The second, entitled, “Mon trés cher Pére” takes the final dissonant chords of Mozart’s Ein musikalischer Spass and, in presenting them quietly, discovers their intrinsic beauty, utilizing them as a requiem for Mozart’s father, Leopold. The French title (complete with an authentic misspelling) is how Mozart often began his letters to his father. Wallin presents hushed textural beds of sounds that seem to extend over into the next movement, “3 x 3.” The number realtes to Freemasonry. Indeed, Freemasonry is famously enshrined in Die Zauberflöte . The glockenspiel and glass harmonica make magical sounds here, ringing out into a nameless eternity. The final movement is a tribute to Mozart’s pet bird (endearingly named “Herr Starr”). The bird died one week after Leopold passed away. Wallin writes a virtuoso take on the starling’s song.

Finally, Tides of 1998, for six percussionists and orchestra. The tides of the title expand and diminish in three large waves in the solo parts, while the orchestral contribution is, by the composer’s own admission, intuitively guided, providing the firm backdrop against which the percussionists display their virtuosity. There is more beauty here than virtuosity, though, in a sound world that oftentimes comes across as a sort of softened Boulez. The bright extroversion of the work’s later moments and its final dissolution make for mesmeric listening, though.

Music of this ilk demands a fine recording, and Ondine has done it proud. There is clarity and depth aplenty here (this disc could easily be used for hi-fi demonstration purposes). Recommended.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Act by Rolf Wallin
Conductor:  Jaap van Zweden
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003; Norway 
Length: 10 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Tides by Rolf Wallin
Conductor:  Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kroumata Percussion Ensemble,  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; Norway 
Length: 25 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Das war schön! by Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Martin Grubinger (Percussion)
Conductor:  John Axelrod
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006; Norway 
Length: 24 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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